The question still remains if there is going to be a second step act . The First Step Act, arguably the most significant criminal justice reform bill passed in nearly ten years, was drafted in a rare showing of bipartisanship.
Will there be a second Step act ?
It is expected to reduce the sentences of around 9,000 federal prisoners this year and should help certain aged and dying prisoners rejoin their families before they die.
Still, sentences will be reduced by less than one percent for the remaining 180,000 inmates locked away in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. But the bill's widespread support in Congress and opinion polls suggests that people are ready for more improvements directed toward criminal justice. The question has become whether the First Step name is just a convenient acronym or if there are indeed plans for an actual second step.
Second Step Act Staus Update
One advocate for reform said to stay tuned for more. "There's going to be a second step and a third step," said Mark Holden, general counsel for Koch Industries, who leads its criminal justice reform efforts. "There's a lot more to do." While there may be some momentum, and a general desire to reduce the overall prison population, a number of groups appear to be pulling in somewhat.different directions.
Holden wants to examine how federal prosecutors charge people with conspiracies, believing ones intent should matter more than being involved in a crime, especially when the accused was inadvertently or peripherally involved.
Alice Johnson became the poster-woman for conspiracy related injustice when she was given a life sentence for her part in a conspiracy involving nonviolent drug and money laundering crimes. She was granted a presidential pardon after reality-television star Kim Kardashian advocated on her behalf. Like Holden, Jessica Jackson Sloan, national director and co-founder of the nonprofit reform advocacy group, believes the individual's actual role in a crime is important because he or she might just happen to be present during a raid. "A lot of women in particular get caught up in conspiracy charges because of a minor role,'' Sloan said.
Second Step Act Prison Reforms
Prison advocates would also like to see more done to improve the federal clemency and pardon process. They recommend utilizing independent panels or commissions to apply the presidential power more uniformly, so the, initial clemency petition screenings are not handled by the prosecutor-laden Department of Justice, which is where the Office of the Pardon Attorney is currently based.
"There's a fundamental problem with having the pardon attorney housed in the Department of Justice, because they have a fundamental problem with ever claiming a mistake," said David Safavian, deputy director of the American Conservative Union Foundation's Center for Criminal Justice Reform.
Overall, there is a hope that the momentum of the First Step Act will help push Congress to do more to make federal prisons less crowded and more focused on rehabilitation. If Texas, Louisiana and Georgia can implement progressive prison policies, nothing should be stopping Congress.
Federal Clemency Attorney
The First Step Act did nothing to make the federal clemency process any easier, and until some second step does, contact the Law Offices of Brandon Sample. Our attorneys specialize in post-conviction relief for those with federal convictions. If you or a loved one are seeking clemency, let us help you navigate through the process. Contact us today.